Front Porch Blog

Seven Men’s Attempt to Doom Marsh Fork Elementary

(bumped – J-Dub)
The WV State Surface Mine Board, comprised of just seven individuals, has overturned a DEP ruling which barred a second coal silo from being built right next to Marsh Fork Elementary.

After rejecting the silo in 2005, last August the DEP again denied the permit for the second silo. But the WV State Surface Mine Board now says that the DEP doesn’t have jurisdiction to deny the permit.

So, now – though the law requires a 300 foot buffer – a second silo could be built illegally close to the school. More children will be exposed to toxic levels of coal dust, and Massey CEO Don Blankenship couldn’t be more tickled.

“It is very unfortunate that the project was unnecessarily delayed.”… “Blankenship said the second silo would enable the company to make additional environmental improvements and cut down the amount of coal dust at the site.”

Even Don Blankenship admits there is coal dust at the school. How adding more coal dust makes “additional environmental improvements” is beyond me.

I’d call Fran Ryan at the WV Surface Mine board- at 304/926-0445 Ext. 1685 – and let her know how you feel.

Please go here, to learn more about Marsh Fork Elementary.

Update: Besides being right next to the coal processing plant, I should add that the school sits directly underneath a sludge dam holding back 2.8 b-b-Billion gallons of toxic coal waste. If the leaking dam broke, the children would have 17 seconds before they were engulfed in a 25 ft. high tsunami of coal sludge.



Save the children of Marsh Fork Elementary!

Update 2: From Coal River Mountain Watch:

* Come to Charleston WV meet at the Liberty Bell at 10:30 a.m. on Friday for a rally for a new school. Bring a friend or two or 10!
* if you can’t come, then:

Call Governor Manchin’s office: 1-888-438-2731 (toll free) or 1-304-558-2000.
Send a FAX 1-304-342-7025

Email the Governor’s office:


* The kids need a new school in their own community now more than ever.
* Massey’s own air quality permit predicts an increase in the amount of coal dust (3.49 tons per year) emitted by operating a second silo.

*Neither the state Department of Education nor the US Environmental Protection Agency determined coal dust levels in the school. The EPA’s test was not done during normal operation of the coal plant.

*The state has the money for a new school and the Raleigh County Board of Education is willing to accept it.

*The sludge dam just 400 yards above the school holds 20 times the volume of the Buffalo Creek sludge dam disaster that killed 125 people in 1972.

More Background

Marsh Fork Elementary School sits just 225 feet from a coal loading silo that releases chemical-laden coal dust and 400 yards from a 385 foot tall leaking sludge dam with a nearly 3 billion gallon capacity. Independent studies have shown the school to be full of coal dust.

Massey Energy who owns the coal processing facility has been attempting to build a second coal processing plant near the school for years, but community opposition, action and research led the Department of Environmental Protection to reject Massey’s permit request for the second silo.

On Tuesday March 13 the state Surface Mine Board overturned the Department of Environmental Protection order that blocked the silo.
Read more here:

Community members have been working for years on getting a new school for the children that attend Marsh Fork Elementary in their community so that they don’t have to breathe coal dust and toxic chemicals daily. The grandfather of a recent Marsh Fork graduate walked from West Virginia to DC to raise support for a new school and to meet with Senator Byrd to request a new school in the community. And elementary students around the world have written letters to Governor Manchin and collected pennies to help build a new school.

Find out more here:
surprise delivery of letters to Governor Manchin:
Governor avoids meeting with children:
Pennies of Promise launch with deliver of pennies to the capitol:
Ed’s walk from WV to DC:





Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a Comment